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A Bloody Mess
07 March 2018

A Bloody Mess

Blood vessels are our vital internal plumbing, carrying oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body. This complex pipework starts growing as we develop in the womb, but sometimes the blood vessels fail to form properly, which can lead to pregnancy loss. To find out more about what’s going on, scientists are growing these mouse blood vessel cells in the lab. The ones in the top panel have come from a healthy mouse and form a neat, organised layer. But the cells underneath have come from an animal with a faulty version of a gene called Rasa3 and are chaotic and disorganised, and embryos carrying the same genetic fault will die halfway through development. Revealing these hidden biological pathways is helping researchers to understand more about how healthy blood vessels develop and grow, and highlighting new ways to help fix this faulty biological plumbing when it doesn’t work properly.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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